Columbus area golfers to watch in the districts

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The fall playoffs are here.

Divisions II and III golf had their chapters last week to officially kick off the Ohio High School Athletic Association playoff games, and the districts begin Monday with the Division II girls in Darby Creek. The boys from Divisions II and III have their quarters at the Denison Golf Club in Granville on Wednesday.

At the district competition, Columbus Academy’s Stephen Ma will continue to defend his 2020 Division II state title as the Vikings strive to qualify for the state as a team and eventually to extend their state championship streak to five in a row.

On the Girls’ side of Division II, Columbus School for Girls has won the section title for the second year in a row and continues to advance in the districts.

Here are some Central Ohio golfers to watch out for this week:

Grace Luo of Columbus Academy starts off in an MSL game on August 10, 2021 at the Turnberry Golf Course in Pickerington, Ohio.

Division II Girls

Kristina Ma, Columbus School for Girls

Just a freshman, Ma took home medalist honors in the Blacklick Woods section with a nine-shot command over teammate Emma Kim. This round helped CSG take first place and qualify with a team total of 333, 23 strokes ahead of Columbus Academy.

Grace Luo, Columbus Academy

Luo, a junior, placed fifth in sections and second in districts last year, narrowly missing out on qualifying for the state as an individual. With a third place in the Blacklick Woods section this year, Luo is well positioned to improve his performance in 2020 and go further this year.

Dina Shah, Pleasant

Shah placed third in last year’s section and improved on that result this year to win the Mill Creek section. Shah’s 73s helped Pleasant come second and advance as a team in the Districts.

Avery Thompson, Lakewood

Thompson, a sophomore, placed just behind Shah in the Mill Creek section to help Lakewood win as a team and qualify for the Districts. Thompson rebounded from shooting a 40 on the first nine holes to shoot a 35 – the lowest score of 50 contestants – on the last nine.

Russell Ahmed of Columbus Academy played the first hole in the OHSAA Division II Boys' Golf Tournament on October 16 at Ohio State University's Scarlet Golf Course in Columbus, Ohio.

Division II Boys

Stephen Ma, Columbus Academy

As the reigning Division II State Champion, Ma is one of the best golfers to beat in Division II. He is tied with teammate Russell Ahmed for victory at the Darby Creek sectional and helped lead Columbus Academy to team victory.

Russell Ahmed, Columbus Academy

If Ma doesn’t win the state title for the second year in a row, it could be Ahmed. In 2020, Ahmed finished above Ma in the Districts and was the next Columbus Academy golfer in the state, finishing 11th. After a split victory in the sections, the district and state championships could come down to a battle between teammates.

Clay Bruning, Johnstown

Bruning, a junior, earned an 80 Sections card to move on to Districts as an individual alongside teammate Owen Croak. Last year Bruning was fifth in the districts and missed out on state by five strokes.

Sam Evans of Worthington Christian takes the tee in an MSL game on August 11, 2021 at the Westchester Golf Course in Canal Winchester, Ohio.

Division III Boys

Sam Evans, Worthington Christian

Evans, a senior, wowed the rest of the field in the Turnberry Section as he shot a 69 for the victory. His closest competitors finished with a 74. Evans placed fifth in sections and third in districts last year.

Brian Luft, Catholic from Newark

Luft was part of a group that shot a 74 to tie for second behind Evans in the sections. Newark Catholic finished second after Worthington Christian, and as the Green Wave’s top performing golfer, Luft is well positioned to perform well in the Districts.

Isaac Dillon, Elgin

Elgin missed qualifying for the Districts as a team with a 12th place in the Sections, but Dillon rose to the top of the standings with a 74 to finish second and qualify as an Individual. Junior, Dillon also progressed in individual last year after finishing 11th in sections.

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